Customer Loyalty: Is It A Two-Way Street?

by Jeannie Walters

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We’ve been having some fun over at the 360Connext Facebook wall (have you LIKED us yet!?) and started posting trivia questions this week. On Mondays, we’re posting a fun trivia question and the winner gets a prize! No, really. 🙂 This week, we’re sending our pal Ryan a freshly signed copy of Marketing In The Round by Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston. Geoff lives too far away, so we’re counting on Gini to autograph!

The trivia question was about a quote: “You’ve got to give loyalty down, if you want loyalty up.” Donald T. Regan, a long-serving member of President Reagan’s administration, is credited with saying this.

"You've got to give loyalty down, if you want loyalty up." - Donald T. Regan
“You’ve got to give loyalty down, if you want loyalty up.” – Donald T. Regan

Business leaders often fret over ways to gain and keep customer loyalty, but what about the other way around? Most companies, I’d argue, don’t show that loyalty to the customers. Is this fair? I don’t think so. And most customers don’t, either.

From Twitter:

“Even my local Indian retailer notices I’ve been a loyal customer and gives me bonus stuff, I’ve been with @vodacom since 2007 but..nothing!”

“@emobileireland So I have to pay twice the amount for being a loyal customer?”

That’s right: eMobile Ireland tweet: "The only way to avail of this offer is to sign up as a new customer."

These expressions of frustration sum up some of what’s lacking when a company doesn’t give loyalty back. Why don’t customers deserve loyalty in return for theirs?

  • Companies often treat NEW customers better than loyal customers. Deals, discounts, and freebies are all used as lures to get as many customers as possible, and yet then they don’t honor those same deals for their exisiting customers.
  • Companies rely on customer apathy and take advantage of it with long-term customers. A while back I wrote about my apathetic relationship with ADT, and just recently we called to compare what a competitor had quoted us for the same service. ADT was quick to lower our bill by $20 per month…but only because we had called. Otherwise, they would have happily continued to raise our rates.
  • Companies take publicity stunts too far and insult their current customers. A very recent example is what happened with OKCupid this week. To promote their new “Love Is Blind” app, they removed all the photos from their site. Keep in mind, this is a dating site! Photos are a big part of it. Users were upset, so OK Cupid decided to bring the photos back with this message on their Facebook wall:

“Attention shallow people: user photos are back up on OkCupid! Everything is back to normal. Love Is Blind day was a total success. We’ve already had 65,820 blind date requests through the new app.”

Wow. You can’t make this stuff up! Carter Gibson wrote a detailed post about being one of OK Cupid’s users, and how the day was NOT a success for them.

Is it too much to ask for customers to believe they deserve some loyalty from brands in exchange for their loyalty? I don’t think so. Customers have more power now (and more ways to express it) than ever before, so why not treat them well?

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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